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Protest group strikes medical debt for 1,064 individuals

Occupy Wall Street is a protest group that has emerged amidst the economic recession. Whether our readers agree with the group or not, they have made themselves known. Now, offshoots of the group have sprouted that have done things that made headlines. One of these offshoots is a group that calls themselves “Strike Debt.”

The aim of the new group is help eliminate average Americans’ debt by using the lending industry’s own structure against them. The most recent act has been to eliminate approximately $1.1 million worth of medical debt that has piled up. A total of 1,064 people probably considered themselves to be lucky to be in that group, each with an average debt of $900.

When you think of the word “lender,” most often than not, a bank probably comes to mind. However, banks are certainly not the only ones that provide loans. A hospital can essentially become a lender when they provide medical services to patients and send them a bill. Most lending institutions and other companies do not hold the debt until it is paid off. Many companies sell these debts to a third party who then either collects on the debt or even sells it again.

It is this free-market buying and selling of debt that the protest group has exploited. They too have entered the arena of “debt sales.” The only difference is that after purchasing the debt, they are not reselling it or trying to collect. Instead, the group purchased the debt worth over a million for only $21,000 and then simply forgave it.

This group has eliminated a large amount of consumer debt, but the group of people that has been helped is miniscule in the grand scheme of things. It is also important to point out that debt forgiven outside of bankruptcy does have other consequences. We are talking about tax consequences because debt forgiven in situations such as this one is considered income by the Internal Revenue Service and the federal tax code.

There are millions of people across the nation suffering under the burden of one debt or another. Discussing debt relief options with a bankruptcy attorney provides individuals with real options available to them.

Source:CNN, “Occupy offshoot forgives $1 million in random people’s debt,” Blake Ellis, March 15, 2013

Debt relief may look different for each individual or family. Our bankruptcy website provides information about secured and unsecured debt and options for reorganizing or eliminating debt, and access to a team that understands the unique nature of each case.

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